28 October 2011

R U There?

And about some other concerns I am having with the practice of text messaging:
First, like telegrams, these messages arrive with an immediacy that seems to demand my instant attention. Rarely do the messages possess the urgency they proclaim, but I ignore them at my peril. The message assumes importance from the medium by which they arrive, but in fact in most cases they are simply a call for immediate mundane response. What time is dinner? What does diurnal mean? Can I have a sleep over or go to Los Angeles for Winter Break?
But instant attention is what these messages demand. I think these missives (I almost wrote missiles!) reflect the contemporary culture of the need for instant gratification. As soon as an issue is raised a response must be sought and received. I recall once a lawyer friend of mine bemoaning the introduction of fax machines to his office: now documents could be instantly transmitted and he was obliged to stay in the office awaiting arrival and making response. Before this new technology he could at least hold off the onslaught until the morn. But these instant messages, different than emails that for the most part have required that one at least be seated at a desk in front of the computer in order to respond (though the advent of smartphones means that our desks travel with us) make it all the more impossible to escape a weighing sense of obligation. Texts go where no email has gone before: in tunnels and up mountains, into places where wi-fi has not beenand may never bepresent. These instant messages requiring instant response suggest that little time has been given for any thoughts on the question posed nor has any personal effort been made to independently seek answer. The need for immediate answer becomes a pressing demand. I want the world and I want it now!
Finally (for now), these messages assume a simplicity that reality just doesn’t offer. Questions and concerns are posed in these telegrammatic communications that in conversation might demand engagement in serious extended conversation, and would involve complex consideration and response. However, the medium itself precludes such engagement. I am condemned to click away with my thumbs or poke with my index finger while the phone corrects my spelling with often appalling results.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

From The New York Times:

Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices include an auto-correction feature for typing that can sometimes make less than desirable changes to your text. Fortunately, you can turn this feature off.

On the Mac, open the System Preferences box, either by clicking its icon in the Mac’s Dock or going to the Apple menu in the top left corner and selecting System Preferences. In the System Preferences box, click the Language & Text icon, then click on the Text tab. Remove the check from the box next to “Correct spelling automatically.”

For those who do not mind automatic correction but would prefer to use British spelling conventions instead of those used in American English, the Spelling drop-down menu in the same Text tab offers the choice of British English (as well as the Australian and Canadian variations).

31 October, 2011 14:21  

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